We here at Bitch are pleased as punch to announce that we've got a booth at this year's Wordstock Festival! If you're anywhere near the Portland area, you don't want to miss this. Tons of great authors, an amazing book fair, fun events, and Bitch! Awww yeah.
Bitch is lucky enough to get special things in the mail from readers, makers
and doers from time-to-time. Recently, one of these packages arrived
for me from Kelly Abeln, Editor and Art Director of the publication, 'Cult of Flowers'.
I've got nothing but love for my fellow feminists out there in the trenches, working to raise money and fund programs and bring meaningful change. But when one of those feminists spits on and stomps all over our core values IN PUBLIC--I absolutely flame up like the Hindenberg. And my righteous feminist fury has been burning bright since last week, when I read this statement in the Los Angeles Times about the prosecution of sexual predator Roman Polanski:
"My personal thoughts are let the guy go," said Peg Yorkin, founder of the Feminist Majority Foundation. "It's bad a person was raped. But that was so many years ago. The guy has been through so much in his life. It's crazy to arrest him now. Let it go. The government could spend its money on other things."
Of all the things I've heard about Roman Polanski, this is the most infuriating. There's the use of passive tense that dehumanizes the victim--"it's bad someone was raped"--and symapthizing with the attacker rather than the victim--"The guy has been through so much in his life."--to the ultimate "rape is no big deal" kiss-off: "Let it go." (For a line-by-line breakdown of all the WRONGNESS in that statement, you can read my "Open Letter to Peg Yorkin"). It's douche-y in a way I'd expect from Fox News. Or Rush Limbaugh. But no, this time the douchery comes from within our own ranks, which makes it all the more disgusting.
Feminists disagree on many things, but the importance of prosecuting rapists and fighting rape culture is not one of them. If the founder and chair of the Feminist Majority Foundation–which funds and refers victims to sexual assault hotlines and survivor resources–makes a public statement like that, she must resign. The FMF later issued a press release, protesting that the comment was Peg Yorkin's "personal opinion" and that Yorkin "wants to make clear she condemns rape."
Yorkin has still not apologized, or repudiated her comments. And, frankly, the mere fact that the chair of the FMF has to clarify her position on rape makes it painfully obvious why Peg Yorkin should not be chair of the FMF.
I'm not the only one who was furious at Peg Yorkin's douche-y betrayal--check out what our sisters at Shakesville, Jezebel and Feministe had to say.
Yesterday, my bf emailed me an article from the consistently obnoxious and terrible men's site askmen.com. Apparently, the hard-hitting journalists working over there were interested in determining the Most Influential Man of 2009, and the winner (chosen through a reader poll) was Mad Men's fictional philanderer Don Draper. You know, because television characters should really be the most influential people in our lives.
At any rate, my beau found the news of Draper winning this award even more ridiculous and upsetting than I did, so I asked him to write a brief response to the article from The Male Perspective. Read it after the jump!
Pete Campbell is a rapist. On Sunday night's episode, he met a young au pair living in his building and helped her out of a difficult situation with her employers. He propositioned her; she refused. Later that evening, undeterred, he knocked on her door, forced her to let him in to avoid a scene, followed her into her bedroom, closed the door, and kissed her, leading her towards the bed. Apparently, for some people, this wasn't clearly a rape. I'm here to tell them: it was.
Pete Campbell is a rapist. I've heard some people say that Mad Men is a show about nuance, shades of grey, and therefore Pete Campbell Cannot Be A Rapist. (As if there was no such thing as a rapist in serious, well-developed drama.) I think these people are doing a very superficial read of Mad Men. I don't think the writer or director of this episode was the least bit confused. The au pair is slightly afraid of Pete throughout. She doesn't want him in the apartment. She recoils when he kisses her. That she submits, ultimately, is irrelevant to the question of whether Pete rapes her. She didn't want to sleep with him; she made it clear; he didn't care. He wanted to have sex, and she was there, and she owed him, in his mind. So he raped her. End of story.
Pete Campbell is a rapist. What Mad Men is being subtle about, when it shows us an episode in which a character rapes someone for no reason better than boredom, is the fact rape doesn't just happen in alleys. It doesn't just come from total strangers who leap from bushes. It doesn't involve kicking and screaming and clawing his eyeballs out, because that would only get you in even more trouble.
For whatever inexplicable reason, I started watching Gossip Girl a few weeks ago. Tonight's episode featured Tyra Banks as an actress playing Josephine Baker in a movie. At some point during the episode, it was brought up that Baker was part of the underground Nazi resistance movement during WWII in France, which I did not know about (you can learn something from Gossip Girl, who knew?). Ergo, I give you this week's Adventures In Feministory: Josephine Baker.
The general consensus at the end of Parks and Recreation last season was that the show was a sometimes funny, sometimes not, could be better Office knockoff (which was itself a knockoff). Well, times have changed.
It's a new season for Parks and Recreation, and if you haven't been tuning in yet you are missing out on a giant feminist treat: Deputy Director Leslie Knope. Knope, played by Amy Poehler, has really found her feminist (and hilarious) stride this season, and it is awesome. Check out this clip from last week's episode, wherein Knope judged a local beauty pageant and tried, in vain, to champion a "not hot" candidate:
From the reader mailbag: Can you please talk about sex while you're on your period? Should I be offended if my boyfriend would rather not? Shouldn't he be willing to accept my body no matter which phase of the moon it is?
Well, this is one we've all dealt with many, many times, right?*
I think responses to menstrual blood vary widely. I personally have no problem getting busy during my period--throw down a towel to preserve the sheets, and I'm good to go. I was lucky that my first serious boyfriend was completely unfazed by my period, so I didn't get any negative messages about it early on. I've had a few guys say "No thanks, I'll wait," and I just took it in stride. Everyone should be able to say no to sex if there's something about it that makes them uncomfortable, including mensturation. While that was occasionally (sexually) frustrating, it wasn't a big deal. And plenty of men don't mind at all, especially since I use condoms pretty much 100% of the time, so it's not like he actually comes nto contact with the blood anyway.
Where I did have problems was on the very rare occasion I got an "Eww, gross!" response. Those men received the Feminist Lecture Series about how my vagina does not exist solely for their pleasure--it's part of my reproductive system, and if they couldn't handle that, they could get the fuck out.